Portugal Gives Approval to Online Gambling for 2015

Published March 2, 2015 by Mike P

People in Portugal will finally have more than one choice of online gambling operator. The first licenses are expected to be granted later in 2015.

Come autumn 2015, Portugal will finally have an open online gambling market. Government ministers have been discussing the prospect of legalising online gambling for many months now, but at last an agreement has been reached as of March 2015. The next stage will be for Portugal’s president, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, to sign the final draft of legislation.

Before choosing to implement fresh legislation, Portugal had a state monopoly in place, with Santa Casa de la Misericordia being the sole operator. That approach has been a source of frustration for international gambling operators, as Portugal was technically going against the EU’s freedom of trade rule. Pretty soon, though, a new market will be open.

High Taxes on Success

As for the landscape of the market, there is considerable tax disparity between the types of online gambling. For sports betting, the Portuguese government has set a tax rate of 8-16%. Meanwhile, online casino and poker revenue will be taxed at 15-30%.

Now, the way the system works for casino and poker operators is that they will only pay 15% tax if they generate lower than €5 million in a year. However, there will be a 3% increase for every additional €1 million. The maximum rate stops at 30%. Most leading European operators are unlikely to be put off.

Portugal Expects €25m Annually

Revenue appears to have been the driving factor behind the legislation change, with Portugal hoping to generate €25 million annually. Turismo de Portugal has been tasked with overseeing the nation’s emerging online gambling market.

To apply for a license, foreign operators will each have to stump up a $500,000 bond otherwise they will not be considered. The Portugal online gambling market is expected to start granting licenses around about the third quarter of 2015. Successful operators will then be able to commence operations.

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